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SALT LAKE CITY — President Donald Trump deserves credit for the historic meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea, but it doesn't mean the tension over nuclear weapons in the region is over, Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, said Friday.
"We've got a generation of military posturing and military preparations that would have to stand down," Stewart, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said. "We've got to see positive actions on the side of North Korea, that they're serious."
He declined to say whether he'd been briefed on the summit but said Trump has succeeded where past administrations failed in dealing with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's efforts to develop nuclear missiles capable of hitting the United States.
"We've got other allies in the region and convincing them to actually work with us has been one of the great achievements this president has been able to accomplish," Stewart said, citing countries including South Korea, Japan, Australia and China.
"We have to give the president credit. He did bring this alliance together. He did convince China to do something they've never done before, and that is actually enforcing sanctions. He did convince Kim Jong Un that he's serious," Stewart said.
Trump taunted Kim on Twitter last year, labeling him "Little Rocket Man," but later announced they would hold a summit and had newly confirmed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meet secretly with Kim over the Easter weekend.
Stewart said there should soon be details about what would be expected to come from a Trump and Kim summit, and "Probably sometime late spring, early summer, we'll see an actual meeting."
Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also said Trump deserves credit as commander in chief "for getting us to a good place" with North Korea.
"When things go wrong, we're going to quickly blame the person at the top," he said. "And likewise, when things go well, you've got to acknowledge the person at the top has influence."
Curtis said, however, he wasn't ready to say the threat has passed, even though the news is positive.
"This is a marathon. It's not a 5K," he said. "This is a country that has proven we have to be slow to trust. So let's see where it goes, but I do think we should all be looking at this with hope and optimism."
Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, was also waiting to see what happens.
"The historic significance of these North and South Korean leaders meeting is not lost on me, and I am cautiously optimistic," Bishop said in a statement.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who introduced a bill related to North Korean labor camps earlier this week, urged that the nation's leaders be held accountable for their record on human rights.
"The talks between North and South Korea are a welcome development, as is the upcoming summit between President Trump and Mr. Kim. This is a sign that the maximum pressure campaign has been working," Hatch said in a statement.
"While we must continue to insist on denuclearization of North Korea (and cannot accept anything short of that), we must also not forget about the abysmal human rights record of the North Korean government, particularly its labor camp system. We must condemn this and hold the North Koreans accountable," he said.
Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, said the meeting between North and South Korean leaders is "certainly an encouraging sign for peace in the Korean peninsula. A denuclearized North Korea is good news for everyone."
But, Love said, "We must be cautious as we move forward and ensure we are able to verify that North Korea does not continue its pattern of broken promises."
Stewart said he hopes Trump's tweet Friday predicting in all caps, "KOREAN WAR TO END!" comes true, with a peace treaty signed to officially put a stop to the war fought on the peninsula from 1950 to 1953.
But Stewart also said he's "not naive."
"I've always said we have to go in with our eyes wide open. We have to be extraordinarily wary that (Kim) might be delaying and just manipulating and using negotiations as a tool to protect himself," he said.
The House Intelligence Committee will be watching North Korea's progress closely, Stewart said, because now that the Korean leaders are working together, the situation "becomes more intense, not less."